News coverage of the bizarre National Rifle Association bankruptcy case in Dallas has focused on the activities of its CEO, Wayne LaPierre, and his lavish misspending of the group’s donor money. This included, as noted here recently, LaPierre ordering the NRA’s ad agency to pay nearly $14,000 to rent an apartment near the the group’s headquarters for a 20-year-old summer intern, Megan Allen (seen below, in a photo taken when she was apparently performing non-NRA related duties), with whom, it has been widely suggested, he was having an extramarital affair.
Those expenses were a tiny fraction of troubling financial expenditures that were “draining NRA cash at mindboggling speed,” Oliver North, who was forced out as president of the group after clashing with LaPierre, wrote in a 2019 letter. What’s been largely overlooked in media coverage, however, is that other NRA officials and board members were apparently also ripping off the Association by misspending donor money or being paid lavishly by the NRA for dubious purposes. To take one example — and I’ll be reporting about others over the next few weeks, consider Sandra Froman, a central figure in the veritable freak show of right-wing Looney Tunes who’ve been implicated along with many other NRA bigwigs in an investigation by the New York state Attorney General’s office.
Who is Sandra Froman? Well, she’s the first Jewish woman — and as far as I can tell the only one — ever to lead the NRA, serving two terms as president, with her second term ending in 2007. She was then given a lifetime appointment to the group’s Executive Council.
She is also an extreme right-wing ideologue with a long track record of flagrant racism, and a person who appears to be clinging to the cliff edge of sanity by her fingertips. (More below.) She also, rather pleasantly to my way of thinking since I’m running a Washington tabloid, linked to Maria Butina, the alleged Russian spy who worked for Aleksandr Torshin, a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, and who worked to infiltrate conservative groups in the U.S., including the NRA. Part of her attempts to infiltrate conservative groups involved seducing and eventually shacking up with Republican political operative Paul Erickson.
The happy couple can be seen below at Donald Trump’s 2016 inauguration. In 2018, Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act as an illegal foreign agent and admitted “to working with Erickson to forge bonds with NRA officials and conservative leaders while under the direction of Torshin,” according to Wikipedia. The following year she was released from the Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institution after serving five months and deported. She later claimed her confession was coerced and maintained she was innocent of all charges. Erickson admitted to stealing more than a million dollars from investors and received a last-minute pardon” from Trump.
In 2011, Butina founded a Russian gun-rights group called Right to Bear Arms (Право на оружие) and was an arms enthusiastic, one might even say a gun nut.
After moving to the United States she got to know, with Erickson’s help, a number of right-wingers, including NRA higher-ups such as LaPierre and Froman. In fact, Froman was one of the very first people to welcome Butina to the NRA. Here’s a picture of the two at the NRA’s 2014 convention in Indianapolis, where Butina was representing her Right to Bear Arms organization. The photo was posted by Butina on her personal blog, where she called Froman “a legendary woman.” (Also, see this excellent article in VICE, which decodes Butina’s blog.)
Froman is apt to come up again in the bankruptcy proceedings, because she’s one of 18 NRA board members or officials who the gun group “routinely entered into agreements with…without adhering to applicable requirements under NRA policy and New York law,” according to the New York state attorney general’s 2020 legal complaint. That complaint alleges “widespread looting of the NRA as a charity, with CEO LaPierre as the ringleader of that activity,” as summarized by a group called NRA Watch.
Froman is not named in the complaint but she is clearly Board Member #4. She allegedly received dubious payments from the NRA of $98,000 for speaking fees and outreach between 2016 and 2018, as reported here by the Washington Post.
I mentioned above that she has noxious views on race. Consider, for example, information contained in this Securities and Exchange Commission filing. It was filed by Majority Action, a shareholder rights group, when she was a director at Sturm, Ruger & Co., a firearm manufacturer.
In addition to noting that Froman had served as Treasurer of a “secretive, ultra-conservative group” called the Council for National Policy, the filing documented her collaboration with Professor William Shockley, the notorious theorist of Black racial inferiority. “Shockley propounded a theory of ‘retrogressive evolution which held that blacks genetically had lower intelligence than whites and were reproducing at higher rates, causing ‘retrogression in human evolution,” says the filing. “His biographer characterized him as a “eugenicist;” National Geographic called him an ‘unrepentant racist’.”
The filing adds:
Froman became a research assistant to the already-controversial Shockley at some point during her years as a Stanford undergraduate (1967-71). For at least part of that time, she worked in his office on a project he used to support his campaign to warn the public about the risks to society stemming from what he viewed as black intellectual inferiority.
Stay tuned. I’ll have more on Froman, and other board members accused of participating in the orgy of NRA misspending, in the weeks ahead.